Montreal Gazette: Opinion–We deserve to know why police shot Bennis
July 27, 2007
It is instructive to read in sequence the Gazette headlines about the death of Mohamed Anas Bennis:
Dec. 3, 2005: « Knife attack on constable remains a mystery: Police officer recovering from wounds. Quebec City investigators question relatives of man shot to death. »
Dec. 10, 2005: « Burial clouded by questions … Attempts to speak with officer involved in shooting rebuffed: family. »
Dec. 12, 2006: « Islamic relations council seeks inquiry into death. »
Jan. 8, 2006: « Protesters push for probe into police shooting. »
Jan 10, 2006: « Details of shooting by cops to be held till after probe: ‘No interest in hiding anything.’ Community demands Quebec set up inquiry into death of devout Muslim man. »
Nov. 7, 2006: « Police officer cleared after bizarre shooting: Investigation cloaked in secrecy. »
Nov. 8, 2006: « Dead man’s family still in the dark. »
April 12, 2007: « Family demands answers in 2005 slaying. »
Now it’s July, and the victim’s sister and other relatives are still asking in vain for answers. As Khadija Bennis explained in a powerful appeal for public support on our Opinion page yesterday, police and the Quebec Public security department have silently stonewalled the family’s requests for an end to secrecy. Our columnist Henry Aubin endorsed that request yesterday, and today we add our voice to the chorus.
A citizen was shot and killed by police on no obvious provocation; what little evidence we do have is a poor match for what little the police have said. Justice must be done, and must be seen to be done. This secrecy should be seen as offensive and alarming not only by those who knew Mohamed Anas Bennis, but to everyone in Quebec society.
If the police continue to stonewall, then it will be up to their bosses, Mayor G?rald Tremblay and executive committee member Claude Dauphin, who is responsible for public security, to reassure us all. Can police really kill without public accountability? Surely not. And if city hall thinks Montrealers don’t care about that question, then the Quebec government needs to get involved.
What’s needed is a proper public inquiry. We can imagine numerous scenarios in which the shooting might have been well justified; we can also imagine many ways the shooting might have been utterly wrong. But a man is dead at the hands of the police: Why does the public have to imagine what happened? The people need to know.
Original article can be found here